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Cardiff Airport

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Cardiff Airport Delays

Key Facts and Figures on Cardiff Airport

Cardiff Airport (CWL) is located 19 kilometres west of Cardiff city center, and serves South, West, and Mid Wales. It is connected directly to sixty destinations, both domestic and international. Round the year direct flight exists to Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Anglesey, Belfast City, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow-International, Newcastle, and Paris Charles de Gaulle. There are seasonal flights to many other destinations. The busiest destinations are Amsterdam, Edinburgh, and Dublin. 1.2 million passengers passed through Cardiff airport in 2011, a drop of 13.6 percent from the previous year. Just over 1 million passengers passed through in 2012, a drop of 16.1 percent drop from 2011.The most recent statistic, between April 2012 and March 2013 indicates 948,850 passenger movements, a drop of 15 percent from the previous year, and a significant dip below the one million mark, for the first time since 2007. A big reason for the drop in passenger volumes is the success of the nearby Bristol airport, which has a passenger movement of over six million in the last twelve months. The withdrawal of flights by budget airline bmibaby in in 2011 also had a negative impact on passenger numbers. Twelve airlines operate regular services from Cardiff, including Flybe. Based on the traffic volumes, Cardiff is the 20th biggest airport in the UK.

Cardiff Airport from World War II to Present Day

Cardiff airport traces its origins to RAF Rhoose, a World War II RAF airbase, set up in 1942, at Glamorgan. RAF Rhoose was abandoned after the end of the World War. By 1951, there was a pressing need for a new international airport at South Wales. The two options were to undertake an extensive modification of the existing airfield at Pengam Moors, or to set up a greenfield airport. The development of Pengam Moors faced major obstacles, such as alteration to the Rumney River, and shutting down the nearby East Moors Steelworks, owing to its tall steel chimneys posing a safety hazard to aircrafts. The abandoned RAF Rhoose was then suggested as an alternative, and agreed upon by all stakeholders. Work commenced in 1951, to clear the runway of stacked up bombs, and renovate the dilapidated terminal building. In October 1952, the new Rhoose Airport was opened for commercial operations, with Aer Lingus starting service to Dublin. On 1 April 1954, the existing airport at Pengam Moors was shut down for commercial operations, and flights transferred to Rhoose.

In the 1960s, the Glamorgan County Council took over control of the airport, and undertook massive developmental works, including expanding the runway, construction of a new control tower, and a new terminal building. In 1986, the runway was extended further, to cater to new-generation jet aircraft, such as Boeing 747 jumbo jets. This paved way for the development of transatlantic links, again mainly through chartered flights.
In the 1980s, British Airways set up a maintenance hangar at the airport, and at 250 meters × 175 meters, this is one of the largest hangars in the world. Today, even though regular passenger traffic is moderate, the airport remains the main maintenance base for British Airways, and hosts a multitude of aerospace-oriented firms and colleges. The airport is also home to many flying clubs, and small general aviation operators, including executive flight operators. Recently, the Welsh government has nationalized the airport, buying it from the other shareholders for £52 million.

What to do in case of Flight Cancellations and Delays

Being a regional airport with sparse traffic, flight delays are not an issue at Cardiff, as it is in Heathrow, and other major hubs. Overall, across all UK airports, 79 percent of scheduled flights were on-time, during the fourth quarter of 2012. The average delay across all UK regional airports is 10 minutes for scheduled flights, and 19 minutes for chartered flights. Most Cardiff airport delays occur owing to technical issues or weather conditions, rather than owing to airport congestion. The most significant delay in recent times was on 19 June 2011, when a technical hitch delayed a chartered flight from Corfu, by over 30 hours. You can see all recent delays at Cardiff in the table above this article. For the latest air punctuality statistics at all UK airports, please visit Civil Aviation Authority.

Many passengers are unaware of their right to claim compensation from their airline in the event of a flight delay or cancellation. The compensation available for delayed flights, which arrive at least three hours behind schedule, can be up to £480 or £500. However, delays on account of inclement weather or any reason beyond the control of the airline are not eligible for compensation. Flightright utlises law experts to help you claim your compensation.

What rights do I have?

Under EU law, you can get up to 480£ compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation or overbooking of your flight.
This is true regardless of the ticket price and up to 6 years retrospectively.


What to do when delayed?

  • gather information
  • Take photos
  • You are entitled to vouchers
  • Keep documents from the airline, such as letters, tickets, vouchers
250 €
< 1,500km
3H Delay
400 €
1,500km - 3,500km
3H Delay
600 €
> 3,500km
3H Delay
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